Blog regular Tony Talbot’s latest book was released last week! It looks fantastic and you can check out the book and teaser beneath today’s special guest post from Tony himself, talking about his writing journey, from first sentence to Eight Mile Island, his fourth novel. Speaking of the new book: you can enter to win your very own copy in our giveaway! **CLICK HERE**
“Even a journey of a hundred miles begins with one.” – Chinese proverb
In case you missed it, I’ve just finished writing my fourth book in four years. I know, sometimes I can’t believe it either. Four books is four times as many as some people many in a lifetime; on the other hand, to some people, it’s nothing but the start of their career.
It seemed like a good time to take a look back and see if I’ve learned anything. How is Eight Mile Island (2011-2012) different from Over the Mountain (2008-2009)? What have I learned from it all?
One of the biggest differences for me is this, what I’m typing right now. My self-promotion for OtM was non-existent. I posted about it a few times on the Amazon boards (The awful ghetto of the meet-the-author forum was still a nascent nightmare back then). I didn’t have a webpage or a Facebook account. Didn’t tweet, didn’t know about Goodreads (Did it even exist?).
I’d finished OtM and sent it off to a few agents with no real results before I read an article about self-publishing. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I commissioned a woman I work with to design me a book-cover and I started to self promote. So there were all the twists and turns of uploading to get to grips with…
Initially I started SP’ing without much enthusiasm or sales, but I’m a persistent guy and I stuck with it while I started on my second book, Taken.
I’d finished that and number three – American Girl – when I stumbled across Goodreads at the start of this year.
And that’s when things started to happen. I offered some of my books up for review, and I’m getting some good feedback now – 4 and 5 star reviews, I’m delighted to say, and a growing group of people have me on TBR lists. I affiliated with this blog, and I started my own. I have a Facebook account for myself and all of my books, a website and a Twitter account.
And all that’s happened in the last seven months! It feels like I’d been feeling around in a dark room and suddenly found the light switch.
Self promotion is as least as important now as writing the book. And tied up with that is the book itself, how it looks and reads.
Something new for EMI…I decided to commission a graphic design company to do the cover for me. It was the first thing I did after I finished the first draft, and when the cover came back, it made me realise that something that looked this professional should be professional. Having a cover so good, it felt like I should step up a gear and do something more professional as well, but what?
I looked around on Goodreads, and quite a few people were talking about editors – my wife does a first edit for me, but she can’t catch everything.
OtM wasn’t read or edited by anyone but myself before it went live on Amazon, and I realise now how much of a mistake that was. A good edit would have caught some of the typos, and polished the parts I didn’t even realise are dull. A good editor can make a difference with just a few commas and a handful of comments.
So for EMI, for the first time, I hired a professional YA editor (jennifermoorman.com), and it made a world of difference. Literally, in my case, changing one word changed the whole of the book. Editing is something I have definitely improved. Buying a Kindle has helped in that regard. Funny how the loopholes and the typos jump out when it’s a different format!
And even when Jennifer and I were batting edits back and forward, there are still things we both missed. Editing never really stops…I’m a lot easier on typos in books now I know how hard it is to pin them down. EMI went through six edits compared to OtM, as a comparison.
All of this is, of course, expensive. Facebook is free, but my web hosting and blog costs money; my editor wasn’t cheap, and my cover set me back a few pennies. I’ve spent more money on EMI than any of my other books. It’s also, with all the editing and self-promotion, a book that’s taken me longer to write.
But I look at it as an investment. Make your writing look professional and people will respond to it. Have it professionally edited…do it for your readers if not for yourself.
I exist as a writer almost exclusively virtually and digitally, and all people know about me as a writer are the things they read about me on web pages like this and my cover photo. All they have to go on is my book covers and the samples they read. There are a lot of books to read out there, and I have to – and YOU have to, if you want to be a digital writer – make life easy for them. Be good to your readers, and they’ll be good to you in return.
Do I write the books any differently now? The mechanics of writing is easier now with all the writing I’ve done. I know where the commas go and what to do with paragraphs. That’s sublevel stuff now, a foundation I can rely on. I’m still learning it though – that’s another advantage of an editor – but I can concentrate on the story now without having to worry about speech marks.
I plan them out a little more now as well. I have a magnetic board in my office (a spare bedroom…I aspire to a writers shed at the end of the garden!) where I stick up a mind-map rough idea of what I want from the book. I don’t follow it to the letter though; it’s more of a spark for my imagination.
So that’s my journey from book one to book four. It’s been a blast, and there’s no way I’m done yet! I have a plan for Book Five already…
At this rate, I’ll be back in a few years to talk about Books Six to Ten, the books I haven’t written and the characters I haven’t shared lives with…yet.
See you in five years!
You can also enter to win your very own copy for Kindle in our giveaway! **CLICK HERE**
Welcome to Eight Mile Island.
About the Author: Tony Talbot was born in the 1970s and started writing in 2008 after a dream he had and couldn’t shake. Eight Mile Island is his fourth book. Tony regularly contributes to the Aside from Writing blog and so look out for future features and posts from this great author.
Want to know more? Check out the links!
Website: http://www.tony-talbot.co.uk Twitter: @authortony